Thursday, August 2, 2012

Supporting the young elders and processing PEF loans

   Monday night we took Miriam and Phillip Clarke and  Elders Pack & Acton to dinner to celebrate Tom and Phillip’s August birthdays.  Tom enjoyed the best steak he’s had since leaving Utah.  The steaks  in S.A. are  rather tough and they taste different.   Tom said the steak he had last night was as good as “Applebees.”  Even hamburger, called mince meat here in Africa, is not very good.  We usually just eat chicken or fish.

   Yesterday we did flat inspections and said a final goodbye to Elder Pack.   Acton  welcomes two new missionaries today.  They will stay with him at Prospect Road until he goes home in two weeks.  Saying goodbye to Pack & Acton was like bidding farewell to our own kids.  Working with them has strengthened our testimonies, encouraged us and enhanced our lives. The Taylors and Van Sickles are very busy.  They spend  most of their time working in the black township wards out in the bush.  We have held firesides and participated in "planning for success" classes there, but our focus has been in the two Afrikaans wards here in Port Elizabeth.  Both have few members and need lots of activation work.

  We learned  more about Pack and Acton yesterday by looking at their family pictures posted to the wall.  Their parents are about the same  age as our  Belov kids.  I asked Elder Acton who proposed and when he was going to get married?  He said, ”Chelsey proposed to me.  We are getting married October 13th.”   I asked if another woman  in a photo was his mother?   ”Actually she’s my step mother, but I love her like a mother.  I’ve only seen my real mother twice since I was three years old.  She lives in Arizona with my 23 year old sister.”   President Wood said Elder Acton has had a lot of challenges during his mission.  He turned his furniture moving/repair business over to another and now it's gone under.   Still Acton has been able to do an amazing job in the mission field.  Both mothers can be very proud of these sons.

  Yesterday afternoon Elder Taylor arrived for yet another computer training session.  He is determined to teach us how to process PEF loans before we leave for East London.  Taylor drew a lot of charts explaining how all data is stored in either files or folders (like my Docs) on the hard drive.  (Someone divided the hard drive on our PEF computer into haves.  So all the PEF documents are stored on the D drive rather than on the C drive.)  There is a folder called “My Docs” and within that, there is a file called “my scans.”   Using the icon for our new HP printer/scanner, we scan PEF documents into a student's folder.  Then we open a different program to bundle or zip all the documents we just scanned together.  After doing that, we must go to  Once there we navigate to the PEF section where Tom signs in as “administrator.”   All PEF loans are initiated by students on line. (Good luck in Africa where only one person in 10 has a computer.) 

  Then the application receives a loan number.  Once we get into a student account, we must navigate back to "scan" to access the documents and post them.  Lastly we hit  “done.” Then everyone with rights has access--the student, the loan committee in S.L., PEF headquarters in Johannesburg and us. Every loan is initiated, processed, approved, and managed by this on line system.  We should have learned all this during  our training at the MTC or in Salt Lake but by the time we were faced with processing a loan, we had forgotten how and had other problems;  Internet now working, scanner/fax not working and our land line was blocked.  Without Elder T.'s help we would have been shut down.

   Elder T. says that Tom’s problem is that he has big fingers, moves fast and has a heavy touch.  When he  hits more than one key, he finds himself on the wrong page or out of the program. He get frustrated.  Taylor says he is a very bad student; does not read and jumps ahead.   But we have been practicing. Between the two of us,  we can finally close a loan.  However these problems have taught us about technology, how
computer work and  how to work together as a team.  Perhaps this mission is boot camp for eternity.

   As for PEF in South Africa, Elder Kelly Haws, the church's education director, wondered how it was going?  Elder S. replied, "very slowly."  I said, "If we were working for a bank we would be fired."  Despite presenting seven firesides and participating in workshops, we have only generated one loan.  However, had we not been  here and PEF left up to the wards, nothing would have happened.  This effort is to encourage people to grow and provide opportunities, not just generate loans. 

  We have taken just one student through the entire PEFF process, Mawethu Dlepu, the son of  the protestant minister who paid for his LDS mission to Kenya.   Dlepu  wanted to become a pharmacist.  However in doing research in the planning for success workshop, he discovered that he did not like standing around waiting to fill prescriptions; so has decided to become a "fire fighter".  Dlepu's loan was approved and has been sent to Salt Lake.  His classes begins on Monday. Elder Stokoe and I are teaching make-up workshop classes in Kwanobuhle.  We will have three more students ready to apply for PEF loans next week.


No comments:

Post a Comment